Islam, the Middle East, and the West


Fall 2017




The aim of the course is to provide students with a general overview of the long and complicated relationship and interaction between "Islam" and the "West". A basic starting point would be that there are many "Islams", as well as many "Wests", and that the nature of their relationship has sharply varied during the years.
The course will begin with an introduction of the first period of Islam. We will discuss the formation of Islam and its spread, as well as the basic legal and religious foundations. We will analyze two early interactions between Islam and the West, in the form of the crusades and the occupation of al-Andalus (Spain).  
In a sharp move we will then turn to the long 19th century in the Middle East. Focusing first on the developments within the Ottoman Empire and its encounters with the western powers, we will then discuss the transition from Empire to nation states in the Middle East, and the development of nationalism and colonialism.
 The last part of the course will address current tensions and dilemmas in the interaction between Islam and the West. We will discuss the debates about Islam and democracy, globalization, the question of "clash of civilization", and the effects of September 11 on the relations between Islam and the West.